Crescent Rolls from Scratch

by Elissa

Crescent rolls from a can are a dinnertime staple when we visit my in-laws in southeastern Kentucky.  A pan of hot, golden rolls will enliven just about any meal, and I always find myself eating more than my share of those flaky, buttery crescent rolls. Although I'm not too proud to admit my affection for canned crescent rolls, I was curious about how hard it would be to make them from scratch. I know that making true croissants from scratch is a major undertaking, and I was curious to see if crescent rolls would be more manageable.

I found this recipe from the folks at King Arthur Flour; I have had great results with all of their flours and their baking recipes are usually spot on, so I had high hopes going in. The recipe calls for some resting and rising time, but my biggest concern was that the dough would be like pastry dough, i.e. sticky and crumbly and stressful to work with.

But the dough came together really nicely (I used the paddle attachment on my standing mixer), and it was pliable and easy to work with.

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I had no trouble folding the dough into thirds as directed. These folds help create the layers that make crescent rolls so irresistible. Giving the dough a rest in the refrigerator was no problem, and the dough keeps in the refrigerator for a few days or the freezer for months. And Lane had fun helping me roll out the dough, cut out triangles, and roll up the crescents.

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My only complaint about the recipe was leaving the rolls out at room temperature for 3-4 hours, which would make it impossible for us to ever have these with a weeknight dinner. I did shorten the rising time with one batch to see what would happen; the rolls were okay but the texture definitely suffered. The best results I got were with the full 3 hour rising time. The homemade version did have a lot more flavor than the ones from a can; this is not surprising given that the recipe calls for a lot of butter. But this recipe makes two dozen rolls, so each individual roll has less than a tablespoon of butter.

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The end result was buttery, flaky, and delicious. All in all, these were actually less work than I had expected, but the time issue means that I'll probably only make them for special occasions or on weekends when I'm looking for a baking project.